Five ways to build brand authenticity in a changed marketplace

Uncertainty is all around us. Most of us, people and companies, have never lived through a global event like the coronavirus and we have no template for navigating the path forward. But there is one thing that helps set a North Star in turbulent, uncertain times and that is truth, authenticity and the willingness to put our true-self out there. This is a reality for individuals and for brands.

In today’s world, that relationship between customers and brands has changed and the customer expects more than just a simple transaction — they demand to understand the beliefs, values and business practices of the companies that they do business with. They have lots of choices of brands to select from and they are picking brands that reflect their value system and their worldview. They care as much, or more, about how a company conducts its business as they do about what it is making. And the current coronavirus-impacted environment is only amplifying this trend.

Can a company really create authenticity, or are they authentic because of something that is intrinsic to who they are?

Authenticity a result of acting on beliefs – it is an outcome, not an initiative. It must be felt through actions, not just articulated in words. The customer is watching what you do as well as listening to what you say. If there is any dissonance between the two, they will call you out and they will take their business elsewhere.

So, what are some simple steps companies can take now, and in the future, to ramp up their brand authenticity?

Here are 5 suggestions to realizing true brand authenticity:
  1. Live the concept of transparency. Own who you are, don’t hide it and be open about your business practices. It is the key to ever being considered as authentic and it is expected practice in today’s changed world.
  2. Do not try to be something you are not, embrace the truth of the organization – the things that make you unique as a brand. Base your authenticity on actions, not just words. This new environment has raised the bar on actions speaking louder than words. When this current crisis passes, this new focus will remain.
  3. Look inside to understand the “whys” and the “hows” before you explore the “whats” of your brand. There is a culture there — document it, help it come to life and build your messaging around your cultural truths and your cultural actions.
  4. Finding audiences — internal and external — who share that worldview and connect to the things that they value. Genuinely connect, not just to sell something, but to build an added-value relationship.
  5. Nothing is more inauthentic than trying to convince people that you are authentic. Don’t try to capitalize on a situation that doesn’t fit your brand truths and don’t try to be something you are not. And, if you are trying to do good in the community, raise money or make a positive impact in this environment, etc., it must stem from/be linked to one of your core cultural values, or be based on an existing relationship. In the coronavirus world we live in, we can’t stress this point strong enough.

Authenticity is a natural outcome of these steps/principles, not something that can be created and curated. Stop trying to prove your brand is authentic and instead become your authentic-self, act on it and then own it.

Authenticity is non-negotiable in this coronavirus impacted world.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and examples of companies that are doing a great job of being authentic in these difficult times – shoot me an email  or post a comment below.